In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Most of us know the story about Squanto who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford
organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling
colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief
Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although,
the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the
festival lasted for three days.
*This year, I am making the traditional turkey and a beef tenderloin. Look for my preparation post tomorrow and Thanksgiving dinner post Friday.